Seafloor Massive Sulfides (SMS), which were formed by deposition of precipitates from hydrothermal fluids vented from seafloor, is one of unconventional mineral resources beneath deep seafloors in the world. The authors have proposed the concept of seafloor mineral processing for development of SMS, where useful minerals included in SMS ores are separated on seafloor to be lifted while the remaining gangue is disposed on seafloor in appropriate ways. To apply column flotation, one of conventional methods in mineral processing, to seafloor mineral processing, the authors carried out simulating experiments of column flotation on deep seafloor using ores including copper, iron, lead and zinc as metallic elements. Prior to the experiments at high pressures, preparatory experiments at the atmospheric pressure were carried out to find out the optimum condition of the properties of pulp, a mixture of feed ore, water and chemical reagents. In flotation experiments at high pressures, formation and overflow of froth layer by bubbling were observed at 1MPa in both of pulps with pure water and artificial seawater. The analytical data showed that the concentration of metallic elements such as copper and zinc in the concentrates recovered from the experiments was higher than that in the feed ores while the concentration of silicon and calcium, which are assigned to gangue, in the concentrates was lower than that in the feed ores. These results suggest that column flotation can be applied to operation on seafloor.

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